What is your role as a governance professional?
‘The majority of my career was spent in corporate banking. Most of my clients were large listed and non-listed companies from Hong Kong and the Mainland. One of my key responsibilities was to assess my clients’ corporate governance standards and directors’ integrity. In my current role as an independent non-executive director for a number of different companies, I have a responsibility to ensure that the board safeguards the interests not only of the major shareholders, but of all stakeholders. I have to ensure that there is an effective governance framework in place and that the board, the management and the company as a whole upholds the highest possible standards of ethics and integrity.’
What was your career path to your current role?
‘I trained as a Chartered Secretary and this training, particularly in company and business law, accountancy and finance, administration and company secretarial practices, equipped me with a good across-the-board awareness of issues relevant to my career. It also helped me to transition from being a corporate banker to being a director. Of course, it also gave me good knowledge of the important role a company secretary plays in ensuring an efficient and effective board.’
What value does governance bring to organisations and to wider society?
‘Good governance is key to ensuring sustainable growth and enhancing long-term shareholder value. Companies with good governance tend to survive bad times because they have good policies and procedures in place, and they are more accountable and transparent to their stakeholders during a crisis. Companies with good environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards are better able to attract talent, institutional investors and business partners. Investors are ready to pay a premium for, and financial institutions to offer preferential lending terms to, companies with good governance.’
What qualities do you think are needed to be a successful governance professional?
‘Governance is not just about fulfilling internal procedures and ensuring compliance with external regulations and guidelines. Other than having sound knowledge of the subject, to be a successful governance professional you have to have a strong belief in the importance of good governance for the long-term survival and sustainable growth of the company. You yourself have to have very high ethical standards and a strong determination to uphold these standards and to ensure that those working with you are similarly minded. I have always believed that the extent to which board members can do their jobs well depends on how well company secretaries do their jobs.’
How do you think governance will evolve in the future?
‘The board agenda will include more discussions about strategy on technology and information governance. The work of governance professionals will inevitably need to be more digitalised, and increased use of tools such as artificial intelligence and blockchain will make their jobs more efficient. I think we will also see further professionalisation of governance work due to increasing demand from regulators.’
What inspires you in your life and work?
‘To be successful in my career, I needed to know what my corporate customers really needed. I derived a lot of satisfaction from building their trust and providing solutions that helped them tackle their problems. Many of my clients became my good friends, which also became a strong driver for my daily work.’
How do you fill your time outside work?
‘I like playing golf and travelling overseas to experience different cultures and customs. Due to the travel restrictions in place during the pandemic, I have been doing more hiking in Hong Kong and have found just how many beautiful scenic places we have here in Hong Kong that we should not miss.’